Hamadan or Ecbatana is an ancient city in the west of Iran. It is among the world’s few old cities inhabited continuously over the centuries. Once occupied by the Assyrians in 1100 BC and then by the Medes (700 BC), Hamedan became the first capital of the Achaemenians. Countable monuments dating back to Sassanian era show the great importance of Hamedan in Iran. Lots of visitors travel to this amazing city for the mystical historic spots and wonderful natural attractions of Hamedan.
Ali Sadr Cave, The World’s Largest Water Cave
Travelling 70 kilometers north-west of Hamadan, you’ll find Ali Sadr Cave, the world’s largest water cave. This mysterious cave dates back to 190 million years ago, to the Jurassic era. Only 11 kilometers of this natural wonder was discovered in 2001 and its end is not exactly clear. The flowing river in the cave provides the chance to visit the discovered chambers and labyrinths by boats. The walls of this prehistoric cave are naturally designed by converted forms of stalactites and stalagmites. Lighted with colorful lights, these crystallizing calcareous figures make a stunning scene inside the cave. The water of the Ali Sadr Cave is clean but not drinkable and no creature could live in it.
Ali Sadr is a unique prodigy of nature full of awe-inspiring beauties. So, make sure you put the unique experience of exploring this amazing cave on top of your list.
Tomb of The Polymath, Abu Ali Sina
The recognized Iranian scientist and writer Abu Ali Sina or Avicenna is buried in Hamedan. Abu Ali Sina was a polymath, an expert in astronomy, physics, philosophy, chemistry, geography, mathematics, music and medicine.
He lived during the Islamic Golden Age, around the 10th century. Abu Ali Sina was an influential scientist whose works had major impact on the western world. Among his 450 works, his medical book, the Canon (al-Qanun fi’l-Tibb) and his philosophical textbook the Cure (al-Shifa’) were the only references in the Islamic world as well as the entire Europe until the early modern era. His tomb is a 28-meter-high spindle like a tower with twelve stone pillars, resembling different fields of his expertise. Beneath the tomb, there is a circular museum exhibiting interesting objects and a library.
Baba Taher, A Star of Persian Poetry
Hamadan is home to a famous Persian poet, Baba Taher Oryan. He lived in the 11th century, and his life was wrapped in clouds of mystery. As a follower of Darvishism or mysticism, his simple and sincere but deep poems reflect the school of though he was dedicated to. Baba Taher was a master of double distichs, du-bayti. Although his poems are written in a Persian dialect, many people recite it from heart for related occasions in their daily communication. Thanks to A.J. Arberry, Heron-Allen, and Mehdi Nakhosteen the western world got the chance to read his amazing poems.
The mausoleum of Baba Taher is in the north-west of Hamadan. This grand octagonal structure with eight stone pillars decorated with delicate tile work is a befitting tomb for this great poet.
Sacred Mausoleum of Esther & Mordechai
This biblical tomb is the second main pilgrimage site after Jerusalem for Jews. The Jewish Queen of an Achaemenid king and her uncle, Mordechai are buried in a square structure. During centuries the tomb was rebuilt several times. The Islamic architectural elements prove that the last repairment was done in the 14th century. This historical religious monument is built by bricks and stones with a short stone entrance door and decorated with Hebrew inscriptions. Many people especially Jews visit this place for holding their religious ceremonies.
Ganjnameh, Notable Ancient Inscriptions
12 kilometers southwest of Hamadan, there is a treasure in the heart of the mountains. There are two cuneiform inscriptions dating back to the Achaemenid era. The lea trilingual inscription was ordered by Darius the great and the right one by his son, Xerxes I. In twenty lines Darius, the great, and King Xerxes praised Ahuramazda, the creator of the world and introduced themselves. Ganjnameh is also a natural attraction. There is an amazing waterfall in the vicinity of these inscriptions making this spot more pleasant to visit.
Gonbad Alavian, An Exhibition of Persian-Islamic Art
Gonbad Alavian is a cubic structure perfectly showcasing the Islamic architectural art. Erected during the 10th century, it was first a mosque then transformed to be a burial place for two members of Alavian religious sect. The walls and columns are decorated with embossed bricks with Kufic scripts and plain bricks forming diamond patterns. The dome of this historical structure is a fine example of Persian- Islamic plaster and stucco work.
A Stone Lion Protects The City
During the Parthian empire (247 BC -224 AD) there were two stunning stone lions protecting the entrance gates of Hamedan. These sculptures were built in the Hellenistic art style and believed to have supernatural powers in guarding the town. Unfortunately, in 931 AD, they were damaged as the Deylamids conquered the city. In an unsuccessful attempt to transport the remained stones to Ray City, one was completely destroyed, and the other one lost its paws and tail. Now the remains of this ancient stone lion statue (with the dimensions of 2.5 m length, 1.1 widths and 2.2 heights) sits in the middle of a square in Hamedan.
Hegmataneh Hill, The Largest Archeological Sites of Iran
On a vast hill at the entrance of Hamedan, you can find one of the largest archeological sites of Iran. Ecbatana, Hegmataneh Complex or Hegmataneh Hill is an approximately 30,000 m2 area that was once an ancient Median city. It is possible to walk in this archeological site and wander between the mud- covered trenches.
The founded objects are exhibited in the nearby museum. Ornamented Achaemenid pillar bases, golden tablet and goblet, unique Parthian coffins with human skeletons, some Seljuk fountains and large amphorae are some awe-inspiring things you could see in this museum.
Stephen Gregory Church of Persian Armenians
Situated in the East of Hegmataneh Hill, there is an old Armenian church in the Armenians’ Quarter. The Isfahan Armenians migrated to Hamedan and built this church about 330 years ago. The facade of Gregory Church is made with sun-dried bricks. Inside this church is decorated with bricks and four
circular pillars connected with zigzag and crescent arches. The altar is covered by plaster that is exfoliated right now. The Interior view of the Church is made of brick. Stephen Gregory belongs to the Protestants.
Stunning Brick Qorban Tower & Tomb
This tower is the only remaining part of a complex including a school, a mosque, a library, and a monastery. Qorban Historical Tower is the burial of a scholar Sheikh Hafez Abol Ala and a number of Seljuk commanders. This 16-meter brick tower with twelve sides was built in the 16th century. The facade of Qurban Tower is simply decorated with bricks and exquisite plastering. The cone shape top of the tower has two shells.
The Antropology Museum of Hamam-e Qal’eh
Located in an old neighborhood, it got its name from this quarter, Qal’eh (literally mean castle). This traditional bathhouse was built in Qajar era and changed to be the anthropology museum of Hamedan in 2009. Besides its spectacular architecture with strong stone pillars and the arched ceiling, there are some interesting wax sculptures in this museum. These statues show different stages of bath taking in old times as well as traditional ceremonies held in bathhouses for example before the wedding ceremony.
Laljin & Marvelous PoPery Works
The founded pottery objects in the historical sites like Gian Nahavand Tapeh, Nooshijan Tape or Hegmataneh Hill prove that the art of pottery has a long history in this part of Iran. Laljin, a city in Hamedan province, is not only the capital of pottery in Iran, but also has worldwide reputation. There are about 550 pottery workshops in Hamedan, most of them are in Laljin. These colorful potteries made this city a major touristic attraction in Hamedan. You can visit the workshops and buy stunning objects as gifts.
Alvand Ski Resort
On the skirts of Alvand Mountain, the roof of Hamedan, there is a resort giving a different view of Iran’s natural beauties. Alvand or Tarik Darreh is a professional ski resort where you can try your hand in skiing. When the snow melts in summer, Alvand become a green field for grass skiing and mountaineering.
Facilities such as a shelter, guest-house and a skiing school are available here, Three cable cars, a restaurant, a guest house and other facilities make Alvand Ski Resort a perfect spot to spend time.
Ekbatan Dam Lake
In 1963, a 55-meter water dam was built on Abshineh and Yalfan Rivers. In the south-east of Hamedan, a beautiful lake behind Ekbatan or Shahnaz Dam is situated. This stunning natural attraction welcomes lots of birds migrating to Iran. The chance of watching these immigrant birds and the pleasant weather of the area brings many visitors to the Ekbatan Dam Lake. Ekbatan Lake is one of the leisure spots worth visiting near Hamedan. Water sport fans also can do some sports like boat riding or water skiing in this lake.